For Want Of A Shoe How The American Family Does Fall

The Lion had just started out on a walk around the neighborhood to get his heart pumping and lungs working after a hard morning writing  job advice when he saw his neighbor painting an outside door, newly installed.

Said neighbor, who The Lion shall call Smith even though his real name is considerably more ethnic than that, not that Smith isn’t ethnic in case any Smiths out there are miffed at not being considered ethnic, but Smith is more English than anything and English doesn’t qualify as ethnic.

So, the neighbor painting his breezeway door.

Given that it is February and given that Smith lives on Cape Cod, which is in New England, which is in the northeast part of the United States and easier to find than Iraq on a map, one would not expect Smith to be outside painting a door. Be that as it may, he was.

The Lion would be remiss to fail to point out that Smith is a family man, with a lovely wife and three children who hang out at his house. And a noisy dog, said dog being escape prone, hence the new door to replace the old, loose escape door.

In fact, so far there is nothing unusual, or at least particularly remarkable about the scene. Except for one thing.

Smith was barefoot.

In February. Standing on the pavement of his driveway. Happily barefoot and painting his door.

“Love the footwear,” The Lion said.

Smith laughed and painted. He’s a jovial sort, despite the children and wife and dog and eccentric neighbor.

“It’s a dangerous thing to go barefoot in February, Smith.”

He smiled and wiggled his toes. “I hardly notice.”

“Oh, not for the cold, Smith, not for the cold. It’s a far more profound danger of which I speak.”

“Oh?” He slapped some more paint on the door.

“Sure. This could cost you everything.”

“How so?” He stopped painting.

“Suppose a less eccentric neighbor happened along and saw you painting barefoot.”


“He, or more likely she, would keep on walking, but she would be thinking ‘Smith hasn’t any shoes’. And she would mention that to one of her cronies.”

“I don’t see the danger in that,” Smith averred. Smith is not normally given to averring, so I knew he was paying attention.

“Well, her crony tells someone else that you had to sell your shoes, so you must have lost your job.”

“Well, perhaps. But obviously I’m not hurting.”

“It’s perception, Smith, perception. Pretty soon the word will be around that you are actually destitute and that you had to sell everything and your house is empty and you and your wife are sleeping on the floor.”

“That’s a big jump.”

“People leap all the time in times like these. The next thing is that you’ll have sold your children to make ends meet. White slavery or the circus.”

“But they’re still here. They live here.”

“Really? I hardly ever see them.” It’s true. The Lion rarely sees a child. Of course two are in high school, and the daughter is very beautiful and apparently popular (The Lion occasionally wishes he were young and in her high school, but that’s neither here nor there.) The other child is too short to be seen often. “So you see how someone who is not eccentric could come to the conclusion that because you are barefoot you must have sold your children.”

Smith looked a bit puzzled. He also began to hop from foot to foot.

“Perhaps you can guess what happens next?” The Lion said.

Smith shook his head.

“Well, normal people consider it cruel and criminal to sell one’s children. Beat them, fill their head with lies and fairy tales, call them names, okay, but sell them, that’s a no-no.”

“What do you think they’ll do?”

“Easy. Since the economy has slashed the police force and the social services crowd, they’ll take the law into their own hands. They’ll come with torches and pitchforks, tar and feather you and your wife and throw you out of town after burning your house and cars.”

“But the kids live in the house.” He began to look panicky.

“No matter. The crowd will assume they are someone else’s kids whom you intend to sell for profit. They’ll be sent to an orphanage, probably in Afghanistan.”

“Then what?”

“Nothing. You’ll be destitute and homeless, you and your wife. If she’s still speaking to you. All because you went barefoot in February.”

“I have to go in now,” Smith said.

“Oh. Sorry, didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No, I’m not being rude. I just want to put on some shoes before I finish painting the door.”

The Lion is almost certain that Smith will come out of this crisis in good shape. He’s been through tough times before. In fact, The Lion is almost convinced that the Smith crowd is actually in the Witness Protection program and thus has little to worry about. Unless someone reports him to the U. S. Marshals for going barefoot in February.

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4 Responses

  1. I detect a sadistic streak in the Lion. I wonder why I never noticed that before?


  2. Geez, chappie, I was just trying to be neighborly and helpful…


  3. Maybe you should reserve days like this to call yourself The Nutty Lion. 🙂


  4. So all I had to do was paint something outside sans shoes and someone else would have picked up the boy’s education costs? Now you tell me?


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